MEXICO CITY - Vehicle sales in June fell 4.7 percent in Mexico, a fitting finish for a sluggish first half of the year.
A total of 54,217 cars and trucks were sold. That gave the industry 285,954 sales through June, a 4.3 percent drop from a year ago.
Still, Mexican industry leaders retained their customary cheerful outlooks.
'I'm confident of a total industry of about 660,000 to 670,000 units for this year' said Troy Clarke, head of General Motors of Mexico, the market's No. 1 automaker. That would be slightly ahead of last year's total.
Said Bernd Leissner, president of VW de Mexico: 'I think the car market here will be at the same level as 1998.'
GM and VW were the only companies among Mexico's major automakers to post gains in June. VW registered the strongest increase, 5.7 percent over June 1998. GM had a 2.3 percent gain for the month.
Both increases were fueled by small, low-priced cars. VW is selling the subcompact Pointer assembled in Brazil. Imports at the German automaker were up 186.7 percent, showing the importance of the car. Imported cars from VW are the Passat, which is sold in low volumes, and the Pointer.
The Jetta is also helping VW to be No. 2 in the overall market and No. 1 in the car segment. VW does not sell any light trucks here.
Ford, meanwhile, dropped 11.3 percent from the same month of last year. Nissan recorded a 12.8 percent fall, and DaimlerChrysler lost 15.7 percent. DaimlerChrysler continues to be hurt by its lack of a subcompact car.
Sales of luxury cars remain low in Mexico, but the pace is picking up.
BMW still is the segment leader with an increase of 84.8 percent from June 1998. Audi climbed 36.6 percent, and Mercedes-Benz rose 32.4 percent. Mercedes has stopped production in Mexico - now that it's part of DaimlerChrysler, its local production requirements are satisfied by Chrysler. It has announced a 5 percent price drop across the line because of the change.
Total output of Mexican factories through June reached 746,607 units, a 2.4 percent increase from the first half of last year. Export output has increased 10.9 percent. Production for the Mexican market dropped 15.7 percent.
June output increased 8.3 percent compared with same month of last year. Production for export gained 11.9 percent, while production for the local market was up 0.1 percent.